Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Colonel Brabenachel withdraws

The squadron of Tuhellenbach hussars who threatened the position from the west had been blooded in the dismounted action but they were by no means finished. Colonel Brabenachel saw that plainly as they withdrew toward their army’s main column. He brushed off an orderly who was attempting to bind the wound in his arm and headed instead for the churchyard gate. “We shall have to move fast, Walschen,” he told the platoon commander, a worried looking junior lieutenant. “Those other hussars must be cleared away from the street if we are to withdraw safely. Take your platoon and see to it.” Seeing the young man’s emotions written plain in his face Brabenachel clapped him on the shoulder. “Cheer up! If you’d wanted a safe job you should’ve become a lawyer.”

That brought a smile to Walschen’s lips even if he did still look pale. “My father said much the same thing, sir,” he replied then drew himself up and saluted. “With your permission?”

“Go ahead.”

The platoon formed up swiftly as orders were barked. Brabenachel noticed at least one man had swapped his tricorn for a captured hussar busby and had stuck a lilac bloom plucked from a bush near the gate under the bag. The effect looked rather absurd. “Jokers!” he muttered fondly as they trotted out onto the street and formed a line.

Further up the street near the corner the scattering of hussars fired their carbines. The range was long but one of his men dropped. The others gave a deep growl of anger but remained under control, stepping forward smartly at the command with their firelocks at the high port. “Plato-o-oon halt!” Lieutenant Walschen snapped when they’d moved some twenty paces. “Present your firelocks! Shoulder your firelocks! Aim! Fire!

The volley crashed out, flooding the street with thick yellow-white smoke. Before the wind swept the cloud across his vision Colonel Brabenachel saw it had been a telling volley. At least a dozen of the enemy were down and out of the fight. But Walschen wasn’t finished yet. “At ‘em boys! Charge!

With a roar the platoon charged up the street and through the thinning musket smoke, their iron hobnailed boots striking sparks from the cobbles. The hussars had had enough. They didn’t stand to contest the issue, preferring instead to take to their heels and seek their mounts.

Satisfied that all was under control Colonel Brabenachel turned his attention to the next problem. The enemy’s main column was much closer now. There’s barely enough time, but we can do this! He thought.

* * *

Privates Kleiner and Träger of the Sobelsburg Jager hunkered down behind a shattered wall and peered out at the gunboats on the river. “Those bloody things are putting a real crimp in our plans,” Kleiner grumbled, trying to force more of his great bulk into the scant cover. “There’s no way the others can get across now.”

“Never mind the others, you great clown!” Träger snapped. “How the bleedin’ hell are we going to get over?” One of the gunboats fired and the two men ducked. Somewhere just out of sight a great rumbling and a cloud of dust announced the final collapse of a house under the onslaught.

“Where’s the Old Man?” Kleiner demanded, looking around for their sergeant.

Träger jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Back there, talking to the lieutenant.”

“What good will that do?” Kleiner scoffed. “He’s still wet behind the ears.”

“Yeah, but he’s learning. The Sarge will take care of him.” Träger peered over the wall. “I can see the others!” He pointed across the river to the street leading down to the bridge. “That’s Schmidt’s platoon!”

“About bleedin’ time!” Kleiner leapt to his feet and waved his musket over his head. “Over here, you useless bastards!”

His movement drew a flurry of musket shots from the gunboats as Träger dragged him back into cover. “You stupid great lump! Do you want to get killed?”

“I won’t get killed,” Klenier grinned as bullets smacked into the other side of the wall. “A gypsy told me I’ll die in bed aged ninety-three after a night of passion with a pastor’s twenty-year-old daughter.”

“A gypsy?” Träger cocked his head and narrowed his eyes in thought. “Where was this?”

“In the camp outside Sobelsburg.”

“Do you mean that raddled old hag in the brown dress with the big wart on her nose that was hanging around the quartermaster’s stores?” Kleiner nodded and ducked as a piece of brick bounced off his helmet. Träger rolled his eyes. “She’s no gypsy! That was Corporal Brun’s mother making some extra cash out of saps like you!”

Kleiner looked at him wide-eyed. “You mean she was a fake?” Träger twisted his lips and just looked at him. Kleiner risked a glance over the wall. “Oh hell! Run!

Without asking why Träger took to his heels and followed Kleiner as he bounded over the broken ground, legs pumping. Behind them the wall disintegrated under the impact of a six pound roundshot.

* * *

Colonel Brabenachel summoned his two companies and formed them up across the road and facing the enemy. With their flanks secured by the church and the merchant’s house he had no fear of them being turned by the remounted hussars. Walschen’s platoon was still detached and formed up facing back into the town to guard against any further surprises from that direction.

Closer, Brabenachel thought, watching the oncoming enemy column and gauging the moment. Closer. They’re not deploying into line! No doubt they seek to brush us aside through sheer momentum, but they’ll regret it. Those fellows are acting tired. There’s no go in them. A little closer… now!

“Now, gentlemen, if you will!”

His subordinates took up the drill. “Present your firelocks! Shoulder your firelocks! Aim! Fire!

The volley crashed out, shredding the lead ranks of the oncoming column. It staggered and slowed. “Fall back and reload, gentlemen. Lieutenant Walschen,” he said, turning to address that worthy, “you may lead the way but keep pace with us.”

“Yes, sir!”

Colonel Brabenachel walked backwards, keeping his face to the enemy and checking the dressing of the ranks, but his subordinates were keeping them closed up. Mentally he measured off the distance left to cover until they reached the river. It’ll be close, but we can do it.


Prinz Geoffrey said...

Trager and Kleiner Huzzah!!!
What is the uniform of the Sobelsburg Jagers, I think I might have to paint up this unit. I will look to your old battle report for pictures.

Capt Bill said...

Wonderful action as usual!

Prinz Geoffrey said...

Found your old articles on the Sobelsburg Jagers, what was the miniature based off of, Prussian Jager fig, French light infantry fig, napoleonic jagers, ACW?

Fire at Will said...

Thanks for Kleiner and Träger a lovely touch

Bluebear Jeff said...

Nice . . . now, of course, I'm waiting for the next installment.

-- Jeff

A J said...

Thank you gentlemen! More action to follow.

Prinz Geoffrey, thanks for the links to gamers in the St. Louis area. I've touched base and will be going to a local wargame on Saturday. =)

The Sobelsburg Jager are actually British SYW light infantry figures with the "jockey" type helmet, painted in a vaguely Prussian style. I had bought a few as a sample when contemplating starting a British army but found ImagiNeering more fun. ;)

Snickering Corpses said...

Well disciplined work from our young Brabenachel and his men. And a few trophy hats as well, provided their wearers live long enough to take them home and tell the tale.

Fitz-Badger said...

Great story! Can hardly wait to see what happens next. Also wondering, this might make a good tabletop scenario/teaser, eh? You would only need a fairly small number of figures to play it out.

Prinz Geoffrey said...

fantastic, hope you meet some really quality people. British light infantry with jocky helmets, I wonder if old glory makes those in 15mm. I am sure you would not be upset if my new favorite Jagers showed up in 15mm in Cavenderia. Not on the official story line of course :)

A J said...

Hmm, you're right, Fitz. "Encounter at Wentwitz" would make a nice little tabletop teaser. It has small units, initially operating far enough apart to pose problems of co-operation and communication. It has cavalry acting in the mounted and dismounted role. There's plenty of scope for tactics to come into play.

I'd probably reduce the number of gunboats to just one, as their firepower would be too much for an enemy lacking artillery. Or, you could introduce a light galloper or grasshopper gun or two on the other side. Hmm...

Geoffrey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so of course I don't mind if the Sobelsburg Jager appear elsewhere. It's all part of the magic of imagineering! ;)

Snickering Corpses said...

I don't know that you'd have to reduce the gunboats, depending on how strong or fragile houses and other cover were and how much protection they gave in your rules. If these were reasonable, AND you provided victory conditions/orders to simulate the situation and put pressure on both sides, I think it could be done.

A big key would be having a realistic number of buildings and other cover objects on the table, rather than the usual "3 houses is a village" style. Because everything in the fighting would depend on all those little alleyways and fences and whatnot for concealment and protection.

A J said...

Yes, the nature of the town layout is the key. It would need the main E-W street running over the bridge but the eastern side of the town wouldn't need much in the way of buildings as the emphasis is on fighting to penetrate/defend the west bank.

In practice the river would be to one side of the playing area with the eastern side of the town occupying perhaps a one foot wide space along the bank. The understanding should be that any Margravate/escaping unit able to reach that space is considered safe.

I believe the whole scenario would lend itself to the 'Sharpe Practice" horse & musket skirmish rules published by the Too Fat Lardies in the UK and available as a .pdf download. I'll write up my thoughts at greater length in another post.

Snickering Corpses said...

Yes, I was thinking of Sharp Practice as well. Perhaps if you feel inspired enough to write up the scenario, Rich might run it in the Winter Special?

A J said...

Hmm, I will do that and see what Rich says.